Duck & Cover!


My iPhone is ringing… Hey! That’s the default ringtone for my younger kid! He just started high school this year, and he’s SUPPOSED to be in class! What gives??

I answer.

“Dad! We’re all outside on the football field. The school was evacuated for a bomb threat! Do I have to stay? Can you pick me up??”

Dad, “Uh, what? A bomb threat?? Well, I dunno. Usually, these things are a hoax. Are they letting everyone out of school?”

Son, “I don’t know. Right now they just have us all away from the school out on the field.”

Dad, “Jeez! Well, call me back if they decide to send people home. Otherwise, you should probably stay. When I worked admin at that insurance company I told you about, around when you were born, I was the emergency manager for the office. And I had to get training for that. We learned that, at the time, there were an average of eight bomb threats a day in San Francisco! Obviously, they were ALL bogus. Anyway, if shit blows up, call me back and I’ll come get what’s left of you. Okay?”

Son, “Uh. Okay, dad.”


I’m cruising the Haight for flags, when, “Cha-ching! 941 Cole. Bob. iPhone.”

The Cabulous smartphone Velcroed to my dash rings to life with an app hail. 941 Cole? Ah, Cafe’ Zazie! Never eaten there, as I’m not fond of waiting three hours in line for eggs Benedict. But, I did coincidentally camp three hours south in the Santa Cruz Mountains this past summer, at a site adjacent to a waitress who works at Zazie. We hung out for a bit by my fire, and she was telling me how Adele had just eaten there, while passing through the Bay Area on tour. I guess that’s all you need to know about the place.

I roll up on Zazie lickety-split, and promptly hit ‘Arrived’ on the Cabulous phone. And in short order, a middle aged dad in a Motorhead T-shirt and his little blonde pig-tailed tween daughter pop out of the cafe’. And they gleefully slide in back.

Dad, all sing-song, “Thanks for coming, driver! If it’s okay, we’re going to drop the young lady off at Bush & Scott, and then continue on to 5th & Harrison, in SOMA!”

Driver, “Uh, actually… That’s NOT okay.”

But before I can explain, Dad just casually accepts that I have seemingly snubbed him, and just amends his ride, STILL all sing-song, to, “Oh! Okay! Just Bush & Scott, then. Thanks!”

Driver, nervously, “Wait! Don’t get me wrong! I would normally be happy to-”

But Dad cuts me off, with, “It’s okay. I understand if you don’t want to do two rides. I love cabs! I LOVE to support you guys!”

Driver, objecting, “No! It’s NOT that! I’d LOVE to do two rides! It’s just that SOMA is a TOTAL cluster right now. There was an accident on the Bay Bridge. And they have been redirecting all traffic through city streets. SOMA is a TOTAL nightmare right now!”

Dad, “Oh! Wow! I didn’t know. Well, in THAT case, just Bush & Scott, please. I guess I’ll be working from home. Thanks for the head’s up!”

Driver, “No problem! Yeah, we’d just get stuck in traffic before we even got close to 5th & Harrison. I’ll tell you, it’s REALLY been one of those days! I just got a call from my kid. They evacuated his school out in the Richmond, for a bomb threat! I don’t know if you noticed, but you can hear the helicopters hovering over his school from all the way over here in the Haight!”

Dad, “Wow! I DID hear the helicopters! I didn’t know what it was about, though. That’s crazy! I hope everyone’s all right!”

Driver, “Yeah, they have the whole school out on the football field. I’m sure it’s a hoax.”

Tween, all cute and interjecting, and self-assured, “Oh! We have those drills at my school, too! That’s the one we do for ’emergency evacuation.’ We have other drills, too!”

Driver, “Oh? What OTHER drills do you have?”

Tween, all sprightly, “Well, THAT one is for ’emergency evacuation.’ And THEN, we have the ‘earthquake’ drills, where we hide under our desks… Oh! And THEN, there’s the ‘bad man’ drill!”

Driver, “Oh? ‘Bad man’ drill? What do you do for THAT one?”

Tween, all smiling and cute, and bouncing in her seat, “Oh! That’s if someone has a gun! We turn off the lights… And we keep REEEEL quiet… And we go and hide in the closet… until someone comes to tell us we’re SAFE!”

Driver, “Well! You are certainly a VERY smart young lady! Your are learning SO much more than I did when I was your age!”


After one more ride in the Mission – thanks to Cabulous, I suddenly get queasy. This, after my fare’s tale of having been stuck just an hour earlier on 8th Street, in a cab, on her way to jury duty, before getting out and ditching her cab in what had become a parking lot…. before walking the rest of the way, only to find that court had been cancelled on account of carmageddon.

Carmageddon? Bomb threats?? Mormons??? THIS is one of those days where the Universe is telling me to get the HELL OFF THE STREETS! To go home, and BOLT THE DOOR!!

Yeah, I’m gonna call it.

“Cha-ching! – 650 Castro. John. SFO.”

Well, I guess I can ‘Accept’ ONE more ride…


P.S. – The bomb threat at my boy’s high school ultimately turned out to be a prank. Compliments of a group of students at a rival school. Ah, these kids today.



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Photo by Alex SacK

Check out Alex’s Book 1 – San Francisco TAXI: A 1st Week in the ZEN Life…
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Alex Sack

Alex Sack, born 1970, is a taxi driver who grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland. He attended several different colleges and universities around the D.C./Baltimore region as a music major for 4 & 1/2 years before quitting - pre-diploma - to the horror of his father. He tried his hand as a professional musician/songwriter seeing him through travels domiciled in New York City’s East Village, Los Angeles (where he scored a few songs on The Disney Channel's 'Even Stevens') and San Francisco - where he's ultimately put down roots. Alex is a single dad to two boys, currently ages 15 and 17. His post-natal fallback occupation as Operations Assistant at a start-up clean-tech engineering consultancy came to a sudden end with the one-two punch of the owner’s fatal skiing accident in Tahoe and the subsequent downturn in the economy.This - and an acquired nervous twitch to cubicle work - has led to his latest job...

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